Mayo Clinic awarded grant to test new breast cancer vaccine

Clinical trials expected to begin early in 2016


Exciting developments in the war on cancer are being cultivated right here on the First Coast.

On the cusp of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the Mayo Clinic Florida campus has announced they have been awarded a $13.3 million, five-year federal grant to test a vaccine designed to prevent the recurrence of triple-negative breast cancer.

“Continued improvements in therapies for patients with triple-negative breast cancer are one of our most important research goals,” breast cancer researcher at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Cent in Florida, Edith Perez, M.D., said in a news release. “We owe it to our patients to develop studies such as the ones that will now be possible because of this grant.”

Dr. Perez is a partner and principal investigator on the grant with Keith Knutson, Pd.D, who designed the vaccine and found that it was safe and that it did not induce autoimmunity, or failure of the body’s immune system to recognize its own cells and tissues as “self” as some vaccines can, according to the news release. The vaccine was initially tested by researches at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester, Minnesota campus for safety and its ability to stimulate the immune system.

Triple-negative breast cancer, or TNBC, is missing the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth: estrogen, progesterone and HER2. According to the breast cancer advocacy group, Susan G. Komen, abut 15-20 percent of all breast cancers in the U.S. are TNBC. Anyone can get this type of breast cancer, but research shows that it occurs more often in younger women, African American women and women who have BRCA1 gene mutations, the organization reports.

The clinical trial to test the vaccine is expected to begin early in 2016. The clinical trial will enroll 280 patients at multiple clinic sites.